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Sunday, 31 May 2015

TAXE, the fiscal committee of the European Parliament visited The Netherlands last Friday: is the net finally closing around the empty Dutch letter-box firms?!

If one thing became clear during the last few years, it is the fact that the status of The Netherlands as tax haven is finally getting in the crosshairs of the United States and European institutions, like the European Commission and Parliament.

The Dutch government, as well as politicians in the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament, almost frantically deny that The Netherlands IS a tax haven: the Dutch parliament even accepted a ridiculous motion, in which The Netherlands officially denies to be one. Nevertheless, the writings are on the wall.

Numerous foreign companies and private millionairs from all over the globe knew where to go to, when they wanted to forward their money at a bargain price to tax-friendly savings’ banks and other financial hotspots in the Carribbean area or elsewhere. And it weren’t the Ghostbusters...

Money, that these people and companies earned with foreign-based dividends, or with royalties, patents and other earnings, coming from foreign subsidiaries, made a U-turn through The Netherlands, only to end at a beautiful, palmtree-laden island somewhere on the globe, with more banks and companies than inhabitants… on paper. But it seems that something is finally changing in Europe…

Not that this change is grasped by The Hague yet; the Dutch politicians still assume the ostrich position (“Please move on, nothing to see here”) when it comes to the Dutch role in the ubiquitous tax avoidance (our should we call it evasion?) by large corporations, as well as rich businessmen and famous artists like U2 and the Rolling Stones.

Nevertheless, it seems that the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms (KPMG, PWC, EY and Deloitte) finally understand that a different wind is blowing in Europe, after they have all been invited to plea for the TAXE committee on taxes of the European Parliament.

Their pleas were meant to discover/discuss the best arrangements to make the tax collection by individual countries – within the European Union and outside of it – as fair as possible, for both the corporations in question, as for the countries where the underlying yields are earnt.

The ultimate goals are: no double taxing for corporations in countries at both the emitter and the receiver side of money transfers, but also no zero taxing by both parties. And an end to the artificial, fiscal constructs that large corporations use to scoop out their taxable profits and income.

Is it a coincidence that recently a movement has started in The Netherlands, which seemingly wants to make an end to the numerous, so-called letterbox-companies in this country? Letterbox companies, which seemed only created for exactly that purpose of scooping out money from corporate profits and income? Let’s see what happens along the way.

Prisco Battes, journalist at Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) wrote an article about this new phenomenon. Here are the pertinent snips of it:

Fiscal counsels increasingly question letterbox companies, which are established in The Netherlands for the single purpose of transferring corporate income from interest and royalties to tax havens.

Partners of large tax consultancy bureaus tell the FD, that they are informed by foreign customers with subsidiaries in The Netherlands, that they should be so wise to abolish these letterbox firms.

According to leaving chairman Marnix van Rij of the Dutch Order of Fiscal Counsels, The Netherlands has to guard its favorable fiscal climate for the establishment of companies and ‘it should look after not being punished for a side product of this favourable fiscal climate’.

My comment: In plain English, this opaque remarks means that ‘everybody and their sister should leave the sinking ship of the empty letterbox firms’.

The discussion about the letterbox companies is very topical, now that there is an international movement working towards the establishment of measures, which should prevent against scooping out the basis of tax assessement and avoidance of revenue taxes by international companies.

“As a guild, we went through a certain process regarding empty letterbox companies”, according to Van Rij in an interview with the FD. “We don’t close our eyes for reality and we are not in the defensive in order to keep everything as-is. Empty companies, which don’t have another purpose than transferring money flows through The Netherlands against the absolute minimum amount in taxes, are bad for the Dutch image. By maintaining this tactics, The Netherlands could be punished by both the OECD and the EU for what is mainly a fiscal side product.

Until recently, employment and tax yields were arguments to keep the ‘empty’ letterbox companies. Now, fiscal counsels of large tax consultancy firms state that these constructs are not viable anymore.

Companies must have a certain ‘substance’ in The Netherlands. Customers belonging to such companies with substance, warn The Netherlands that it puts its favourable fiscal climate under jeopardy, when it maintains its policy with respect to letterbox companies.

When even the large accountancy firms, as well as the chairman of the Dutch Order of Fiscal Counsels, think that change is necessary in The Netherlands with respect to some fiscal arrangements, you can bet that change IS indeed necessary.

And last Friday, the special TAXE committee of the European Parliament visited Dutch State Secretary Eric Wiebes of Financial (i.e. Fiscal) Affairs to ask him about the Dutch situation with respect to fiscal constructs and special tax rulings for large corporations.

Wiebes bravely stood his ground and maintained his denial of The Netherlands being a tax haven, according to De Financiële Telegraaf, while reluctantly giving a little bit more openness about the favourable fiscal rulings for large corporations in our country.

The national revenue services of The Netherlands and Germany will soon automatically exchange data, regarding tax deals with large corporations: the so-called tax rulings. Within two weeks both countries will sign a treaty to that respect, according to State Secretary Eric Wiebes of Financial Affairs.

He stated that, after being visited by a delegation of the European Parliament, which is investigating the infamous tax-rulings in a number of countries, with multinationals, like Starbucks.

Wiebes stated that The Netherlands wants to be a front-runner in Europe in the battle against tax evasion. Yet there is nothing wrong with the Dutch tax-rulings, which are according to Wiebes ‘flawless and professional’. Wiebes also wants to make an end to the existence of empty letterbox companies, which are established solely to evade taxes and don’t bring any employment in the country of their establishment.

Earlier that Friday, Wiebes stated that the tax rulings are meant to offer certainty in advance about the height of their tax assessment, but did not “hand out presents to large companies”. “The Netherlands is not a tax-haven”, according to the liberal-conservative State Secretary (VVD).

The last remark is where The Netherlands, represented by this State Secretary  differs in opinion with many, many other countries, people and institutions, who consider that The Netherlands is exactly that: a tax haven!

One thing is certain: in spite of all the bold words of Eric Wiebes and in spite of the fact that chairman Marnix van Rij of the Order of Fiscal Counsels does not want to slaughter the goose with the golden eggs, by totally abandoning the (empty) letterbox firms, it seems that these fiscal constructs have a bright future behind them.

And when the Dutch government does not voluntary abandon the most blatant fiscal presents to the likes of Starbucks, the European Parliament probably will. That is news that will undoubtedly lead to broad disappointment among the financial industry and government of Ireland, The United Kingdom, Luxemburg and The Netherlands. Nevertheless, it will also lead to sheer happiness among numerous countries all over the globe, who see their natural resources being emptied by large, multinational companies, who hardly pay one penny in taxes in exchange.

It is good news when this practice will end soon. 

Friday, 29 May 2015

‘Captain Entrepreneur’ is on the war path against the labour unions. The employees with fixed or flexible contracts could become the ultimate losers of this war.

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled
was convincing the world he didn’t exist…

Already in 2013, I wrote my first article about Captain Entrepreneur, the mythical hero of the entrepreneurs and the small and large employers in The Netherlands.

Captain Entrepreneur is a tireless fighter for the interests of small and medium-sized companies, as well as enterprises in The Netherlands. He stands by them and covers their ‘six’, in their eternal battle against the (now languishing) Dutch labour unions and “the legendary ‘inflexible’ Dutch labour market, with its ‘antiquated’ laws regarding dismissals, sickness payments and employee-protection in general”. Well, you know the drill...

As that is the legend to which Captain Entrepreneur refers: the Dutch labour laws are so inflexible and the general employee-protection in case of sickness, involuntary dismissals and other events between employers and employees is so rigid, that large employers and small and medium enterprises “cannot do otherwise” than hiring either free-lancers or temporary workers on short-ranged contracts, without any outlook or guarantee for a fixed job in due course.

The Captain’s personal favorite? It is the zero-hour contract, in which workers are called at the moment that their activities are required. Such contracts are entered into by both parties, without a formal obligation for the employer to grant the employee a minimal number of weekly hours of work! 

This particular contract carries a lot of obligations for the workers and demands the utmost in flexibility on their behalf, regarding unfavourable working hours and odd starting-times, but does hardly offer any certainties for the temporary employees themselves.

And the Captain Entrepreneur’s main argument? 

“Fixed contracts are outdated…; labour unions are outdated...; collective labour agreements are totally outdated and the general young worker neither wants to have a fixed contract, nor believes in the power of labour unions and collective labour agreements anymore”.

And the youngsters and other workers below 30 believe the Captain when he speaks these words. They think that what he says makes sense for them, as they never were used to having a different kind of contract with more certainty in it…

They do not wonder why the higher-ranked staff workers and (executive) management layers at such SME employers and large, quoted companies – the very people who advocate this flexibility on behalf of the lower ranked, younger workers – do have a fixed contract and all the extra arrangements themselves, that they refuse to their company’s low-ranked human capital.

Last weekend, the Dutch Telegraaf printed an interview with three representatives of large employers' organizations in The Netherlands, who are obviously avid worshippers of Captain Entrepreneur:
  • Maxime Verhagen, chairman of the Dutch association of building companies 'Bouwend Nederland';
  • Fried Kaanen, chairman of ‘Metaalunie’: the Dutch assocation of SME
    companies in the metal processing industry;
  • Patricia Hoogstraten, chairman of the national store council, a part of MKB Nederland (i.e. the association for SME companies in The Netherlands).
This interview was a staggering testimony of the misunderstanding and straight-forward disdain among large employers for worker’s rights, the labour unions and collective labour agreements in The Netherlands.

They showed virtually no understanding for the advantages of fixed contracts for both workers and employers and seemed to live in a totally different universe than the young and older workers of nowadays.

Large employers in The Netherlands are absolutely not afraid for massive strikes. And when the Dutch business industry does not get what it needs, the labour unions can kiss their new collective labour agreements goodbye.

With great confidence, the employers push all threats from the labour unions aside. “I’m not afraid”, according to chairman Fried Kaanen of Metaalunie. “Our employees will say: “We ought not to strike at this moment”.

They make clear that they mean business: senior days (i.e. days for elder workers), special surcharges for workers and other privileges from the past should all be abolished. Totally old-fashioned, according to the employers.

The “collective labour agreement brawl” is topical for the current commotion in ‘the Dutch polder”. Many employers reached a deadlock in their arrangements with the largest Dutch federation of labour unions ‘FNV’, which maintains its wage demand of 3% and does not want to discuss the desire of companies, to negotiate a flexible and modern collective labour agreement (CLA).

According to Fried Kaanen, Patricia Hoogstraten and Maxime Verhagen, the FNV labour union is still living in the past. This causes only arguments between employers and the labour union representatives. The supermarkets didn’t arrange a new CLA in two years already and the negotiations in the building and construction industry are going very troublesome. In the metal processing industry, the negotations already blew up skyhigh. So there is a substantial risk for ubiquitous strikes these days.

Verhagen: “According to the FNV, I don’t give anything in return during the negotiations and I’m only battering the CLA. Still, we want a modern CLA with a substantial wage increase. We have an offer at the table of 4%, as long as it leads to a more bespoke collective labour agreement”.

Hoogstraaten:”Officially the negotations have been suspended. In 2012, we started an investigation, together with the FNV and CNV [Christian labour union – EL] into the modernization of the CLA. We were too far removed from one another then. The last months we only spoke about the mandatory adjustments within the pension arrangements”.

Interviewer: "But the CNV wants to talk again about the supermarket-CLA?!"

Hoogstraaten:”We are always prepared. However, when you enter into negotiations, you should not repeatedly pick up the old CLA booklet and state: ‘page 1, sixth sentence from the bottom; there we are going to change two bullets'. 

Look at the current society. Our industry is not the industry anymore that it used to be thirty years ago. And the employee who walks around there, is not the employee of thirty years ago either”.

Verhagen: “In 2008, there were 170,000 people involved in the construction-CLA. Now that is 99,000. Many people started to work as freelancers. The CLA is deflating because of that. A freelancer is keeping €4,000 more in hand at the end of the year than somebody with a fixed contract. 

That is caused by the fact that he does not have to pay for all the arrangements, that he is not going to use after all. So also the employees increasingly state: “I don’t want such a CLA. With that, I have to pay for days off for elder workers; an arrangement of which I am never going to make use".

Interviewer: And how did the FNV act in the metal processing industry?!

Kaanen: “I had the feeling that the FNV had a second agenda that we hardly knew. I think it has started one year ago: the FNV simply wants to have 3% more wages, whatever it takes! We made a decent offer, in my opinion. By the way, 99% of our grassroots still thinks there has to be a CLA. But not at any price”.

Interviewer: “All of you three think that the CLA is becoming a blast from the past. But what does this particular time require?!”

Hoogstraten: “Our CLA is from the time that the shops were open 52 hours per week at max. On weekdays these supermarkets were open between 8 and 5, on Saturday just a little and not at all on Sundays. Today’s consumer requires that we are open much longer; until as much as 80 hours. For all these extra demands we need a large, flexible shell of workers. Our workers are adapting to that. And our labour terms need to be adjusted to that.

It is inevitable. On a Friday night we need a lot of people. Yet, you don’t need these people on a Monday. That is the reason that we have two categories of workers. Fixed employees who want to make a career in the industry. And many youngsters who see this as a part-time job. Both these categories have different demands and that should be translated in the terms of labour.”

Interviewer: “The labour union thinks that many of your modernizations are actually deteriorations”.

Hoogstraten: “What on earth are exactly those deteriorations? 

When somebody works at the moment that he wants to work. For instance in the evening or in the weekend, when his partner is at home and looks after the children. Then this person is not working at an inconvenient hour, isn't he?! Why on earth should we then still pay that inconvenience surcharge?!”

Verhagen: “And what we want are: individual choices for education, days off etcetera. I don’t know what is bad about that?! What does the labour union then want as a modernization of the CLA, for crying out loud?!”

Interviewer: You won’t back down in this matter? You do want to make a combined effort in the renewal of the Collective Labour Agreements?!

Kaanen: “We have a lot of arrangements with the FNV. Yet, there is a red line for that, which the FNV should not cross. When there is true annoyance, there will be a climate – also among politicianss – in which critics become sick and tired of all the b*llsh*t and tell us: stop with that. We don’t want it anymore. That could spread all over our grassroots.”

The mysterious character Verbal Kint in the renowned movie 'The Usual Suspects' – a majestic role of actor Kevin Spacey – made this famous quote: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled… was convincing the world he didn’t exist…”

I had to think about this quote, when I read this revealing interview (in my opinion a must-read) with these representatives of large employers' organizations. 

Their opinions and arguments do all sound quite reasonable for the uninformed listener and most of these quotes do definitely carry a sense of truth. Nevertheless, what I miss in their quotes is a sign of compassion and understanding with respect to their workers, as well as the labour unions. Everything they said was from their own point of view and from that alone.

There was no sign of compassion and understanding for workers, who had to deal with years and years of wage restraint and massive job loss, during the last decade. Or for workers who saw their legal position on the labour market deteriorate, due to the fact that it became virtually impossible in many positions to acquire a fixed contract.

Especially in the construction industry, many young workers became a freelancer at gunpoint, if they wanted to keep their job or assignment. While the reasons for it were quite understandable from the employers’ point of view, the employers should also understand that this meant a very uncertain future for many of those involuntary freelancers, who on top of that had to deal with fierce competition from East European workers. 

And perhaps these employers should also think about the youngsters working in supermarkets, who have entered into a very uncertain zero hour contract: they must be ready to work for their temporary employer at any time, while still getting a quite poor hourly wage.

If you take the surcharges for inconvenient hours away from them, they almost keep nothing, as far as their wages are concerned. 

Or do Messrs Verhagen and Kaanen and Mrs. Hoogstraten really think that working on Sunday morning at five o’clock is convenient for anybody?! Or Saturday evening at ten o’clock?! Or people not having the chance to spend time in the weekend with their loved ones, because one of them is always working?! Please think again then.

And it might be true indeed that the wages in a supermarket are 20% to 30% above the ‘legal minimum wage’, but let the employers please be honest and tell you that this is probably the minimum YOUTH wage. The follow snippets come from an earlier article:

Yesterday, my dear neighbour told me that her 17-year old grandson had to work long and hard hours in the supermarket, in exchange for very low payment; sometimes even without having a break during six or seven hours of working. And the foreman of this kid still had the nerves to complain that he worked too slow.

As the boy had a zero hour contract without any formal rights, he had to hope and prey every week that his supermarket had some work for him to spare. The “salary” this kid earned, was €3 per hour. This is roughly the same hourly fee as I earned 30 (!) years ago, as a “professional” dishwasher. However, the purchase power of this boy’s money is a fraction of what it was in the eighties.

One remark of Maxime Verhagen in the aforementioned interview comes especially in mind to me: “And what we want are: individual choices for education, days off etcetera. I don’t know what is bad about that?!”

Everybody who is used to working in projects, knows that deadlines are sacred. 

If only employers would rule in the world, there would only be holidays and time off for education during non-working days or idle time. Not during project times.

Yet, when someone has children at school, he knows that he can only go on vacation during the holiday season. And that he has often only time for studies and courses during working days... Project or no project and time or no time. 

Unionized workers and especially workers with fixed contracts know what their rights are and have the tools to enforce them, without the risk of losing their job immediately. 

Freelancers on the other hand only think about their assignment with their temporary employer and their desire to keep it at all costs. The latter does not yield a equal position for negotiations with their temporary employers.

And especially in these hard times, employers want their employees to vanish into thin air when there is no work, only to return when there is work to do again, as I stated a few weeks ago:  

Extra hours? Working during the weekend?

“No problem, you got it, sir! And sir, you pay me so much money for my normal working hours, that I just don’t want to receive the payment for all the extra hours I make for you. I know I am already expensive enough for you, so I will gladly save your company the extra buck”.

And when the economy would decline, those loyal and flexible workers would vanish into thin air, like they never existed, only to return in full force and shape when the economy would start to grow again.

“Glad to be back, sir. How can I be of service?”

While many executives and self-acclaimed leaders at large employers praise themselves for their exceptional qualities and skills, and use this as an excuse for their exceptionally high remuneration, they don’t really search for exceptional qualities among their personnel.

The ideal workers are people, whose knowledge and skills would always be fully up to date. They would not be overly ambitious and would never become bored of their jobs, even when their jobs would be boring, as a matter of fact.

Yet, education and additional courses and trainings are a very serious thing for (freelance and temporary) workers. When they don’t follow those in their spare time, their knowledge and skills become outdated soon. And having outdated knowledges and skills mean ‘no assignments’ for freelancers. So there must be enough time and opportunities to do such courses and trainings.

Yet, the latter does not seem to be the problem of the temporary employer. This is the reason that freelancers are increasingly becoming in a poor negotiating position, as employers are not involved in their education and always seem to choose for the cheapest and most favourable solution... for themselves.

Professor Henk Volberda of the Erasmus University (with a chair in Enterprise Policy) argued in Het Financieel Dagblad:

‘The Netherlands has great ambitions with respect to working more years before retirement and getting used to life-long education. Yet, one sees very little of that in practice. We have excellent primary and secondary education and we invest much in youngsters, but this learning path stops immediately at the beginning of their career. This in contrary to the Scandinavian countries.

As a consequence, Dutch employees are not able to keep their knowledge and skills at level, causing them to land at the sidelines early in their career. After 55, they are participating in the labour market very poorly, in average. Unemployment is extremely high in that category of workers. Only few Dutch 55-plus workers will participate in the labour market until they become 67.

The will to invest in human talent is missing among employers, as well as employees, and there is no fiscal stimulus for that anymore. And at the same time the need for additional education grows: the half-time of professions and skills decreases at lightning speed, under pressure of technological breakthroughs and automation.

In the meantime, the demand for flexibilization is soaring. Certain industries, like hospitality, food and beverage, need this inherently, but this demand for flexibilization also happens in the financial industry, logistics, healthcare and government. 

This bothers me. Short-term thinking rules. Companies consume ready-to-order talent, but don’t feel responsible for their education anymore. When someone better comes along, they simply abandon their old worker. In the long run, this has a destructive influence upon the Dutch knowledge economy”.

I totally agree with this professor and I couldn’t have said it better myself; as a matter of fact, I said about the same in my aforementioned article. 

And so this war between Captain Entrepreneur and the Labour Unions could cause the most casualties among the fixed, temporary and freelance workers, who seem to become neglected by their employers and don't feel represented by the labour unions anymore. 

Their employers forget to invest in them and they forget to invest in themselves. And that is a pity!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Children as guinea pigs in outrageous educational experiments: do the so-called Steve Jobs schools in The Netherlands lead to a new kind of illiteracy?!

The extremely hazardous link between iPad technology and primary schools might yield a generation, which cannot write by hand at all. 

Very young children, handed over by their stupefied parents to technological nitwits and revolutionaries from outer space, could consequently fail to learn the most fundamental human skill there is. 

Apart from the creation of drawings and paintings on rock, which already happens for about 30,000 years, writing by hand is perhaps the oldest art and non-verbal expression form that humans master.

The Sumerian and Elamite cuneiform script and the Egyptian hieroglyphics are all developed more than 3000 years before Christ and form the oldest written expressions in the world, known to man. After these early historical writings, which enabled for the first time the possibility to store and display thoughts, concepts and events in a structured manner, human writing has spread around the globe, where it evolved into dozens of very different writing systems.

Look for instance to the totally different Far Eastern and Pan-Asian character sets, with their thousands of figurative characters, which all symbolize different words, symbols and expressions. 

Or look at the more stylized Arabic and Hebrew scripts, the well-known Latin character set or the very similar Greek and Cyrillic sets, which are respectively in use in Greece and a substantial part of the Balkan countries and the former Soviet states. If one particular human “invention” has delivered a hard to overrate contribution to the development of the human race, it must the development of writing.

Suddenly people did not have to establish and maintain their history, gathered knowledge and investions exclusively from their own memories and oral conveyance anymore. They were able to store these in a way that could be understood by other people, litterally thousands of years later. This made history comprehensible and even tangible for other people and made it possible to people to store their own history in a chronological way, for their offspring and even hundreds of generations thereafter.

The fact that we still know who Plato and Socrates were and what they meant for us modern people and the circumstance that we are still able to read the hieroglyphics from the time of Tutanchamon and the other Egyptian faraos, via the Stone of Rosetta, emphasizes the enormous importance of writing.

Never could the Romans have reached their exceptional knowledge level without the invention of writing and the Enlightenment could not have sent such shockwaves through Europe, without writings in handwritten or printed form. Litterally the whole existence of modern humanity is established upon human writing in all its representations.

Nevertheless there are in The Netherlands - and probably also in other countries -  derailed, post-modern parents, who leave the upbringing of their youngest children to a group of technological nitwits and revolutionaries from outer space, with a totally messed up view on humanity.

A few years ago these nitwits and revolutionaries, in their blind worshipping of their “idol” (i.e. false god) Steve Jobs, established the so-called Steve Jobs schools-with-the-iPad, in which pencils, pens, paper and the (digital) whiteboard all have been replaced by tablets for all pupils and teachers. One of these schools is in my domicile Almere in The Netherlands.

Child with iPad
Picture taken by: Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
They believe in the concept that learning how to write with crayon, pencil or pen and paper is nothing more than a bothersome transitional stage, which only leads to delays at the usage of computers and mobile interfaces. Therefore they let their youngest pupils work with iPads and computer technology in general from the earliest stages of their primary school career. Praise His Holiness Steve Jobs…

And indeed, these children do learn to wrangle the latest digital and mobile technology at a very young age and without a doubt they will be able to find their way in the corporate world in later times. Or won’t they?!

Ma’am “Xaviëra” [for reasons of privacy, this is not her real name – EL] is the teacher of my youngest son. She is an excellent, old-school teacher from Almere, with passion for her children and, besides that, a lot of perseverance, excellent theoretical knowledge and an enormous dose of goodwill.

This wonderful teacher received a new, eight year-old girl in her class room, coming from such a ‘Steve Jobs’ iPad-school. She was brought in by her parents, who had woken up from their technology infatuation and started to wonder whether this iPad school was indeed the best place for their kid or not?!

According to Ma’am Xaviëra, she found out, after the acceptance of the kid on our school, that this eight year-old girl could not write at all with pencil or pen and paper. 

Where normal eight year-olds received about two to three years of writing lessons and in the meantime learned to write with their pens at a quite high level, this child was lagging by lightyears on her way to acquire the most fundamental human skill: writing.

Fortunately Ma’am Xaviëra will look after it personally that this child will acquire ‘the mother of all skills’ at an accelerated level. This girl will soon be able to blend in with the rest of her class. That is the good news.

The bad news is, however, that this particular kid was probably not an anomaly: a one-of-a-kind exception. Probably there were more children in her class, who couldn’t write using pen and paper. And perhaps the large majority of the children at these Steve Jobs schools can’t even write with pen and paper. Who will know?!

This means, in other words, that these children have been sacrificed, as genuine guinea pigs, to the technology infatuation of their parents, as well as to the technological nitwits and revolutionaries from outer space, who established and populated these schools.

Guinea pigs, for whom salvation might come too late in some cases, as learning such fundamental skills is much harder for older children and adolescents than for the youngest children, who learn this effortlessly while playing.

In spite of the fact that these children can type and write on their computers and iPads, they are nevertheless illiterates in a certain way, as they don’t master the most important of human skills: writing by hand.

How is it possible that in such a highly technological and technocrat country, with so many tight rules and regulations, as The Netherlands, such dangerous amateurs can do what they want at schools they established themselves; schools which seem to be established upon technological infatuation alone. 

And how is it possible that the Dutch educational inspection, which looks after some of the most ridiculous rules in the most thorough way, totally ignores these events at the iPad schools?!

When I heard about the Steve Jobs iPad schools a few years ago, I was already afraid that such excesses would be the consequence, for the simple reason that these schools were established by “religious believers”, with neither a form of self-reflection nor an ability to put things in perspective.

Now it is perhaps not too late yet to save these children and teach them this very important skill. For the very simple reason that we would never have heard about Socrates and Plato, when the classic, old Greeks would not have learned to write… with pen and papyrus!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Kinderen als proefkonijn in waanzinnige ontwikkelingsexperimenten: leiden de zogenaamde iPad scholen in Nederland tot een nieuwe vorm van analfabetisme?

De levensgevaarlijke verbinding van de iPad als exclusief leermiddel aan basisscholen op de zogenaamde Steve Jobs-scholen  levert wellicht een generatie op die niet meer met pen en papier kan schrijven! 

Heel jonge kinderen, die door hun verdwaasde, post-moderne ouders zijn overgeleverd aan technologische dwaallichten en losgezongen wereldverbeteraars, missen daardoor het leren van misschien de meest fundamentele, humane vaardigheid die er is.

Apart van het maken van rotstekeningen en schilderijen, dat al een kleine 30.000 jaar gebeurt, is het schrijven met de hand misschien wel de oudste kunst- en non-verbale uitingsvorm die mensen beheersen.

Het  Sumerische en het Elamitische Spijkerschrift en de Egyptische Hiërogliefen zijn alle meer dan 3000 jaar voor Christus ontwikkeld en vormen hierdoor de oudst bekende schriftelijke uitingen ter wereld. Na deze vroeg-historische schriften, waarmee gedachten, concepten en gebeurtenissen voor het eerst op een gestructureerde manier konden worden weergegeven en bewaard, is het menselijke schrift wereldwijd verspreid en daarbij geëvolueerd naar tientallen, soms zeer verschillende schriftvormen.

Denk daarbij bijvoorbeeld aan de soms totaal verschillende Oost-Aziatische en Pan-Aziatische karaktersets, met hun duizenden figuratieve karakters die woorden en begrippen aanduiden, of aan de meer gestyleerde Arabische en Hebreeuwse schriften, de overbekende Latijnse karakterset of de Griekse letters en de Cyrillische letter-set, die in de voormalige Sovjet-staten en sommige Balkan-landen gebruikt wordt. 

Als één “uitvinding” een moeilijk te overschatten bijdrage heeft geleverd aan de ontwikkeling van het menselijke ras, is het wel de ontwikkeling van het schrift.

Plotseling hoefden mensen hun geschiedenis, opgedane kennis en uitvindingen niet meer uitsluitend op hun eigen herinneringen en mondelinge overdracht te baseren, maar konden ze deze vastleggen op een wijze die letterlijk duizenden jaren later nog gelezen en begrepen kon worden. Hierdoor werd de geschiedenis begrijpelijk en zelfs tastbaar en kon deze chronologisch vastgelegd worden voor niet alleen het directe nageslacht, maar ook voor de honderden generaties daarna.

Het feit dat wij nog weten wie Plato en Socrates waren en wat zij hebben betekend voor ons moderne mensen en de omstandigheid dat wij de hiërogliefen uit de tijd van Toetanchamon en de andere Egyptische farao’s nu nog kunnen lezen, via de Steen van Rosetta, geeft het enorme belang van de uitvinding van het schrift weer.

De Romeinen hadden nooit hun uitzonderlijke kennisniveau kunnen bereiken zonder de uitvinding van het schrift en de Verlichting had nooit zo’n schokgolf door Europa kunnen geven, zonder de gestage verspreiding van het schrift in zijn handgeschreven of gedrukte vorm onder de Europese inwoners. Letterlijk de hele bestaansgeschiedenis van de moderne mensheid is dus gebouwd op het menselijke schrift in al zijn verschijningsvormen.

Toch zijn er in Nederland, en ook daarbuiten, ontspoorde, post-moderne ouders die het ontwikkelen van een goed handschrift op de basisschool niet belangrijk of zelfs nutteloos vinden. 

In plaats daarvan willen die de opvoeding van hun allerjongste kinderen overlaten aan een groep door technologie gedreven dwaallichten en van de werkelijkheid losgezongen wereldverbeteraars, met een volkomen gemankeerde visie op de mensheid.

Een aantal jaar geleden hebben deze dwaallichten en wereldverbeteraars, in hun blinde adoratie van hun “afgod” Steve Jobs (de voormalige, overleden topman van Apple), de zogenaamde iPad-scholen opgericht, waarbij de pen, het schrift en het (digitale) schoolbord voor alle kinderen en onderwijzers zijn vervangen door het tablet. Eén van deze scholen staat in mijn woonplaats Almere.

Vanuit de gedachte dat het leren schrijven met krijt of pen en papier uitsluitend een hinderlijk tussenstation vormt, dat enkel vertraging oplevert bij het leren gebruiken van computers en mobiele apparatuur, laten zij de allerjongste kinderen vanaf het begin werken met iPads en met computertechnologie in het algemeen. De Heilige Steve zij geprezen…

Kind met iPad
Auteursrecht foto: Ernst Labruyère
Klik om te vergroten
En inderdaad, deze kinderen leren al op zeer jonge leeftijd goed om te gaan met de allernieuwste mobiele en digitale technologie en zullen later vast snel hun draai kunnen vinden in het bedrijfsleven! Of toch niet?!

Juf “Xaviëra” [om redenen van privacy niet haar werkelijke naam – EL] is de lerares van mijn jongste zoon. Zij is een excellente lerares van de oude stempel uit Almere, met passie voor haar kinderen en daarnaast veel doorzettingsvermogen, uitstekende theoretische kennis en een enorme dosis aan goede wil.

Deze geweldige juf kreeg een nieuw kind van acht in de klas, afkomstig van zo’n ‘Steve Jobs’ iPad-school. Gebracht door haar ouders, die inmiddels uit hun technologieverdwazing waren “bijgekomen” en zich begonnen af te vragen of die iPad-school inderdaad wel het beste voor hun kind was?!

Volgens juf Xaviëra bleek, na de acceptatie van het kind op onze school, dat dit kind van 8 jaar helemaal niet kon schrijven met potlood of pen en papier. 

Waar ‘normale’ kinderen van acht dus al minstens twee tot drie jaar schrijfles achter de rug hebben en al op een behoorlijk hoog niveau kunnen schrijven met pen, had dit kind op de Steve Jobs-school een schier onoverbrugbare achterstand opgelopen bij het verwerven van de meest basale menselijke vaardigheid: het schrijven.

Gelukkig zal juf Xaviëra er persoonlijk voor zorgen dat dít kind deze ‘moeder aller vaardigheden’ ook (versneld) zal verwerven en snel mee zal kunnen draaien met de rest van haar klas. Dat is het goede nieuws.

Het slechte nieuws is alleen dat dit speciale kind waarschijnlijk geen (echt unieke) uitzondering vormt; waarschijnlijk zijn er meerdere kinderen in haar voormalige klas die niet kunnen schrijven. En misschien kan zelfs het leeuwendeel van de kinderen op zulke Steve Jobs iPad scholen überhaupt niet of heel slecht met pen en papier schrijven. Omdat ze dat nooit geleerd hebben...

Deze kinderen zullen er dus op latere leeftijd achterkomen dat zij door hun ontspoorde en verdwaasde ouders de belangrijkste vaardigheid van hun leven hebben gemist. 

En ook dat ze daardoor altijd een bepaalde achterstand zullen hebben ten opzichte van de rest van de wereld, bij alles wat ze in de rest van hun leven doen. Want schrijven met pen en papier blijft  in tegenstelling tot wat de adepten van de moderne technologie ook beweren  een vaardigheid die altijd nodig zal blijven om een compleet mens te worden.

Dit betekent, met andere woorden, dat deze kinderen als waarlijke proefkonijnen zijn opgeofferd aan de technologieverdwazing van zowel hun ouders, als de dwaallichten en losgezongen wereldverbeteraars die deze Steve Jobs-scholen hebben opgericht en bevolkt. Proefkonijnen voor wie redding in sommige gevallen te laat zal komen, omdat het leren van dit soort basale vaardigheden voor oudere kinderen en jong-volwassenen veel moeilijker is dan voor de allerjongsten, die het snel en spelenderwijs leren.

Ondanks dat ze kunnen lezen en typen, zijn deze kinderen op hun manier toch analfabeten, omdat ze de allerbelangrijkste menselijke vaardigheid – het schrijven – niet beheersen.

Hoe komt het dat in een hoogtechnologisch, technocratisch en ook meritocratisch land als Nederland dit soort gevaarlijke hobbyisten zijn gang kan gaan op door henzelf opgerichte basisscholen, die uitsluitend op technologische verdwazing en ongefundeerd wensdenken gebaseerd zijn?! 

En hoe kan het dat de schoolinspectie, die op normale scholen soms op de meest belachelijke en futiele zaken let, erbij staat en zoiets gewoon laat gebeuren?!

Toen ik enkele jaren geleden het verhaal achter de Steve Jobs iPad-scholen hoorde, was ik al bang dat dit soort excessen het gevolg zou zijn; om de simpele redenen dat dit soort scholen werd opgericht door blinde ‘gelovigen’, zonder enige vorm van zelfreflectie en relativeringsvermogen. 

Nu is het wellicht nog niet te laat om deze kinderen te redden en ze alsnog deze belangrijke vaardigheid bij te brengen. Om de simpele reden dat wij nooit van Socrates en Plato hadden gehoord als de oude Grieken niet al hadden leren schrijven… met pen en papyrus!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

‘Earning money from somebody else’s efforts and investments!’ There is something extremely fishy about that!

Everybody who knows LinkedIn well, is very much aware that it is loaded with all kinds of ‘wise’ statements from famous earthlings, like Shakespeare, the Dalai Lama, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.

Unfortunately, for many people it is better to recycle a corny statement from a famous and successful sage, than to develop an original and though-provoking statement themselves. They hope that some of the glory and splendour of their sages illuminates themselves, which of course… hardly happens.

A few days ago, however, there was an advertising statement on LinkedIn that attracted my attention, for the simple reason that it presented a quite painful truth in a  straight-forward, thought-provoking and easy-to-understand way:

Advert of Wetp@int on LinkedIn, used as the
foundation for this blog
Picture courtesy of: Wetp@int and LinkedIn
Click to enlarge
It is true…

Airbnb, Uber, Facebook and Alibaba are in fact freeloaders on somebody else’s efforts, talent, creativity, capital investments and risks. And so are Google Blogger, WordPress, Instagram and LinkedIn and numerous other successful content and service mediation sites. 

Sometimes such sites cause their users even unacceptable risks and personal misery: especially in case of Uber Pop and Airbnb, which actively promote de facto forbidden practices, thus offending a series court judgments in different European countries and elsewhere. Airbnb and Uber earn the money, while their hosts and drivers take the heat from the local law enforcement. 

All these sites and companies, based on at least one brilliant idea and founded upon a mixture of conviction, perseverence and (in some cases) lack of conscious and funded by smart investors (“I’ll give them that”), put to practice how one should privatize the profits, while socializing almost all the efforts, risks, expenses and even penalties: the house wins!

Simply too many people believe in the (often) fairytales of:
  • eternal friendship, while sharing every experience, event and thought concept that they have (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp);
  • becoming a successful writer or blogger, by posting their content for free on a blogsite (Google’s Blogger, WordPress or Amazon);
  • becoming a successful retailer (Alibaba);
  • creating a successful second career and new wealth as taxi driver or maître d’hotel, when their real career is faltering (Airbnb, UberPOP)

I in particular understand the truth behind this LinkedIn advertisement very well indeed. 

At this very moment I am writing my next blog to implicitely promote Google’s Blogger site for free and turn it into one of the world’s leading sources of original content in the process. At other moments I am frantically clicking on the ‘refresh’-button, in order to see the rising number of visitors per day. It is my personal Pavlov-reaction and I am fully aware of that.

While I abolished every illusion about Blogger making me rich or even earning me a decent income, I still like the concept that Google Blogger offers me endless amounts of free hosting space, without any hassle; in exchange I write for them the free content that they need to remain popular and influential and a firm base for their adverts. 

Although it is not a financially rewarding deal for me personally, it offers me an intellectual reward to do something with my talent that I really, really like. Google is very aware of such notions, you better believe it…!

Nevertheless, there is still something extremely fishy about my deal with Google and about those numerous other deals between private citizens and small companies on one hand and the ‘big enchiladas on the Internet’ on the other hand. 

While I and most of my millions of colleagues on Blogger don’t earn one penny of income with our countless writing efforts and constant flow of fresh content, Google reels in the mega profits, through advertisements and paid search results.

And that is almost the same with the other brands mentioned in this particular advertisement at LinkedIn: Uber, Airbnb, Alibaba and Facebook all make excessive amounts of money and profits, with in comparison extremely small investments; investments in only a zillion terabytes in hosting space and a few thousands of employees worldwide.

While those terabytes of hosting space and that personnel are definitely not for free, their expenses truly pale in comparison with the consolidated investments in: 
  • all available Uber Pop-taxis; 
  • all available Airbnb hospitality rooms;
  • all available inventory for sale on Alibaba.
Not even to mention all the necessary efforts to create the billions and billions of pages of original content, that can be found for free on Blogger and WordPress.

Would all these efforts actually have been paid for at fair value by Google and Wordpress, these companies would not have earned one penny. Fortunately for these companies, however, these efforts have hardly been paid for by them…

And that is undeniably fishy… 

Monday, 18 May 2015

Pursuing more flexibility and lower expenses for labour, until ‘death do us part’?! That might happen, in the aviation industry!

This morning, the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant printed an article about “fake labour constructions”, which rookie pilots enter into, in order to acquire a necessary position in the aviation industry.

These very unfavourable “strangulation contracts”, especially at pricefighters like Ryanair and Norwegian Airlines, could put the safety of passengers and air personnel under jeopardy eventually.

Here are the pertinent snippets of the article in the Volkskrant:

Advancing fake labour constructions jeopardize the safety of aviation. The majority of rookie pilots, in service at price fighters, works as a freelancer or even has to pay for ‘receiving the favour’ of getting flying hours at these companies. ’It is very scary that these pilots do not dare to call in sick, afraid as they are to lose their job’, according to Member of European Parliament and ex chairwoman of Dutch labour union FNV, Agnes Jongerius.

Jongerius and her colleagues Peter van Dalen (ChristenUnie) and Wim van de Camp (Christian Democrat Party) want Brussels to make an end to these fake constructions. Jongerius: “Flying inexpensively is pleasureable, but it has to be safe!”

An investigation by the Belgian University of Ghent disclosed that especially young pilots at pricefighters don’t receive a traditional labour contract anymore, but work with special labour constructions, which prohibit them to make critical remarks or refuse work.

According to the University of Ghent, the safety regulations become under jeopardy. Not only at Ryanair, but also at Norwegian Airlines, a pilot starts working with a debt. The pilot pays back this debt by flying the airplane ‘for free’ during the first two years of his assignment, using a so-called ‘pay-to-fly construction’. According to the investigation, half of the pilot corps at the so-called pricefighers works under this construction.

This investigation shows the effect of the ‘double whammy’ that is currently happening in the aviation industry:

Within Europe, a massive overcapacity in aviators has mounted during the last decade. Simply too many young boys (and perhaps some girls) followed their childhood dreams to become an aviator at an aviation company. They invested heavily in these extremely expensive trainings, only to find out that they were stuck eventually: without a job as airliner pilot, but with a gargantuous debt of €100,000+ and hardly a chance to earn it back as a pilot.

Common aviation companies often only want to have experienced aviators with sufficient flying hours and all the necessary certificates and trainings for the most popular plane types and don't want to spend time on training these rookie pilots anymore. 

This circumstance makes these young, rookie aviators an easy bait for the price fighters, which are always looking for possible ways to save a penny or a pound, in order to offer even cheaper airline tickets and still maintain a profit. These pricefighters offer those jobless aviators the flying hours for which they are craving, in exchange for an extremely unfavourable ‘strangulation contract’ and a ‘no sickness / no critical opinions’ policy:´shut your mouth and fly your darn plane or face the consequences’.

Especially in the case of Ryanair, it is important to realize how much impact their ‘no critical opinions’-policy for aviators can have upon the safety of the airplane and the environment under the flightpath in general. This pricefighter became infamous a few years ago, when within one week three of its airplanes had to make an emergency landing in Spain, after being redirected to another airport in this country, due to stormy weather at their original destination. 

After investigation it became clear that the Ryanair airplanes had flown on kerosene fumes during the moments before the emergency landing procedure: their initial available amount of fuel had been so frugal, that there had been virtually no room for any deviations whatsoever. 

While the general, bargain-hungry public might have forgiven Ryanair for these incidents and this behaviour, or might even have forgotten about it, this airliner is the last one that should have silenced and scared aviators, in my not so humble opionion.

During the last few years, I had the pleasure of talking twice with the distinguished Fred Bruggeman, chairman of the association Aircraft Engineers International, about the things that bothered him in today’s aviation industry. He repeatedly stated at these occasions that:
  • Aviators generally report in their flight logs many more incidents and malfunctions during the returning flights back to the hub of their airliner, than during the departing flight away from it. Definitely much more than could be expected from the statistical standard deviation, applicable in these situations. According to Bruggeman, the differences have been so great that ‘a kind of fraudulent behaviour had to be involved in order to explain these erratic data’.
  • Official Aircraft Engineers are more and more ‘downgraded’ to being administrative supervisors of repairs and maintenance executed by non-certified mechanics, instead of being in the lead during active checkups of such repairs and maintenance.

Suffice it to say that both of Bruggeman’s issues could cause serious accidents among the tens of thousands of airplanes that are in the air on a daily basis; especially when pilots are too afraid to speak up loudly, scared as they are to lose their job at these pricefighters and thus their financial future.

And please don’t underestimate the problem of ‘silenced’ aviators flying possible faulty planes with – on top of that – too little fuel aboard. This is probably not a neglectable problem, even though it did not clearly lead to particular accidents yet.

When a two hour flight with Ryanair yields €28,000 (f.i. 255 passengers times an average ticket price of €110, including surcharges), it means that everything must be paid from this money alone, including a 10+% profit for Ryanair itself:
  • the aviator, as well as other air and ground personnel;
  • airport (handling and landing) fees;
  • ticket and airport taxes;
  • luggage handling;
  • fuel;
  • airplane lease;
  • mandatory trainings, assessments and inspections;
  • maintenance costs.
The only way to make aviation a profitable business with such narrow margins, is to keep these planes in the air virtually around the clock and staffed with pressured, scared and inexperienced aviators, who virtually work for free, as well as undertrained (?) auxiliary personnel that costs their airliner as little money as possible. 

And the worst thing is that all other airliners have to slowly adapt similar business models, when they don’t want to be run over by these pricefighters and lose their business to them.

This means that the room for additional margin is extremely narrow in the aviation industry and that such pricefighters as Ryanair and Norwegian Airlines squeeze the last penny and cent of margin out of their ticket yields, in order to remain more profitable than their competition.

In the process, Ryanair, Norwegian Airlines and many other pricefighters, and perhaps common airliners as well, try to cut back on anything that does not crash the plane (service, meals, air and ground personnel) and perhaps sometimes even on things that theoretically could, like mandatory maintenance and the critical fuel amount for safe flights.  

The last thing that you want in this situation is a gagged pilot, who remains silent about truly dangerous situations emerging during his working day! 

In other words: while flexible labour contracts and lower labour expenses are not per sé a bad thing, in theory, they could very well lead to excesses. 

Flexible contracts seriously weaken the position of the employee, in favour of the employer. In the aviation industry this circumstance could theoretically lead to dangerous and even fatal situations and accidents in which “death does passenger and personnel part indeed”. 

Update 18 May, 2015

After I finished my article this morning, I received information through email from the University of Ghent; in particular from Professor Yves Jorens and academic assistant Dirk Gillis, who have been responsible for the creation of the very important report, mentioned in the aforementioned article of De Volkskrant. 

I am very grateful for receiving this additional information and therefore I want to offer you a link to the full report, which is a very interesting and also disturbing read for inquiring minds.

The following snippets contain the two page summary of this report, which I print here in full for the purpose of information:

Key findings:
  • More than 1 pilot out of 6, among the surveyed, is under ‘atypical’ employment conditions; i.e. working through a temporary work agency, as self-employed, or on a zero-hour contract with no minimum pay guaranteed. 
  • Low Fares Airlines (LFA) are the largest ‘users’ of atypical employment, in what the researchers see as a clear divide in the employment market between the traditional network carriers and LFA:
    • In LFAs only half of the pilots are directly employed (53%), while 15% are self-employed, 11% fly for an airline via an own (e.g. limited liability) company, and 17% are working on a temporary agency contract. As regards self-employment, 7 out of 10 of all self-employed pilots surveyed state they work for a low fares airline.
    • In network carriers, these “atypical practices” represent a significantly lower share of their workforce: only 0.6% of pilots are self-employed pilots, 0.4% fly via an own company and 1.7% work on temporary agency contract.
    • Young pilots are most affected by precarious employment. With more respondents from the 20-30 year age category reporting to fly for LFAs, almost 40% of these young pilots have no direct employment contract with their airline. Some airlines offer cadets a position at deplorable conditions, or even resort to ‘Pay-to-Fly’ schemes where the pilot actually pays the airline to fly (revenue-earning) flights. This shows the labour market is deeply segregated between young and more experienced pilots.
  • Greater diversification in contracts can, on the one hand, be a tool for more flexibility, on the other hand it can be used for “social and fiscal engineering”, i.e. schemes to ‘shop’ for more lenient laws, to avoid high social security contributions and reduce taxes for companies. For example, almost half of pilots working via an own company are mainly paid per hour with a minimum of hours guaranteed, which can be an indicator for a ‘bogus situation’; and many selfemployed pilots state they have no say in the amount of hours they fly. These findings cast doubt on the genuineness of their self-employment status. 
  • Almost half (46.6%) of self-employed pilots (strongly) disagree with the statement ‘I can amend the instructions of the airline based on e.g. objections regarding flight safety, liability, or regarding health & safety’. This could raise serious flight safety concerns. The lack of control on flight hours, health & training are other matters linked to safety highlighted by the study. 
Key issues highlighted by the study & conference:
  •  Applicable labour law and social security legislation remain problematic. The ‘home base rule’ as the basis for the coordination of social security systems has solved some of the legal issues but others remain unresolved, and needs to be further improved to bring legal certainty. 
  • Civil aviation legislation dates from World War II and is not adapted to take into account the different forms of atypical work and outsourcing. This is also the case for labour law and social security regulations, which allow complex subcontracting chains and contractual bogus constructs to replace direct employment. 
  • Atypical work forms are frequently in tension with aviation safety culture. The ‘dependency’ created by conditional and precarious employment arrangements could place an employer’s commercial imperatives in conflict with the pilot’s legal duty to take independent professional safety judgments before other considerations. 
  • Young pilots are in a particularly weak and vulnerable position, due to the amount of financial debts they incur to finance their studies, combined with the (mostly low fares) airline policy to recruit young pilots only if they have a type-rating. In a context of a mala fide management style this could degrade some safety nets. 
  • Aviation risks drifting to the maritime model of ‘Flags of Convenience’ with ‘regulatory shopping’, tax and social engineering and hiring air crew from outside the EU to man and fly EU aircraft. Fair competition and worker rights are compromised by this development, safety could be difficult to monitor effectively and the current legislative framework is clearly inadequate. According to the Ghent University, “its minutes past midnight” and urgent action is needed. 
Initial policy recommendations:
  •  Amending Reg. 987/2009 on the coordination of social security systems to strengthen the principle of home base. The establishment of European occupational pension funds and a better coordination of social security systems to improve confidence and control between Member states regarding the really applied criteria for issuing any social security forms. Ideally, the development of a dedicated European social security system for highly mobile workers should be pursued.
  • Limitation and continuous monitoring and control through technical and labour regulations of the air crew operating aircraft as service providers or through a temporary contract. Restricting subcontracting in the civil aviation sector to meet a temporary increase of the workload and not a usual workload, and better regulating liability and crew management.
  • Active prevention of bogus situations, especially of bogus self-employment by strengthening cross-border cooperation and oversight as well as an enhanced legislative framework that provides for a default assumption of direct employment for mobile workers unless concrete and robust criteria are met that prove otherwise. 
  • Better protection of whistleblowers, both legally and economically, through establishing adequate reporting mechanisms in tax, labour and social security. 
  • Development of global or European oversight system allowing for effective oversight of the social, labour and safety situations of aircrews. 
  • Banning Pay-to-Fly schemes at European level and/or globally. Revision of aircrew training structures and financing of such training.
  • Mandatory publication by companies with more 1.000 employees, of an annual social report including data defined by the European social partners of air transport. 3 ? Development of a plan to prevent Flags of Convenience in Aviation, based on the Maritime experience covering safety, tax and social aspects.